I remember my first day as a manager. I knew all the things I needed to do to be a good and effective first-time manager, but when it came to actually doing them, that’s when I realized that there is a big difference between knowing how to do something in theory…and actually doing it in real life.
It took me months before I started feeling as if the actions I was taking were actually good, solid actions that were going to help the team and the company. To shorten the learning curve for those who are or are soon-to-be first-time managers, here are 5 ways you can be effective at your job sooner than later.
1) Trust Your Team
In the beginning, first time managers often have issues with listening and trusting their team. I know I did. I would find myself micromanaging situations and colleagues that had been doing their job (quite well, might I add) for months, if not years. As soon as I stepped in, I felt the need to oversee everything. I felt it gave me the control I needed to succeed, but it only made me tired and appear as if I didn’t trust anyone. It didn’t take me long to relax and just trust my team to do the jobs they were hired to do.
As a first-time manager, you may be tempted to micromanage in the same way, but when you take ownership away from your team, you only decrease job satisfaction in the workplace. People want to feel as if they own the projects that they’re working on, so it’s essential to loosen the reins and let people excel.
2) Hear Your Team Out
Another important thing you need to learn, as a first time manager, is how to listen to your colleagues. Listening is a skill that a manager needs to master if they want to be an effective leader. This is especially important during meetings that you lead. Don’t ramble, always be concise, and never, ever talk without feeling your crowd. Look at each and every member of your team and be aware of their reactions. Are there more people looking at their phones than there are listening to you? Then maybe you’ve been talking for too long and need to take a break.
Additionally, listen to what people have to say by asking for feedback and genuinely incorporating it into your work. People always have an opinion, and if you want to work well with your team, you need to know what they think. And they need to know that what they believe matters.
3) Be Responsive to Your Team’s Needs
This goes hand in hand with incorporating feedback into your work, but it goes a bit further. You need to show your team that you care about them, that their needs matter to you and the company, and that you are there for them. Show your team that you care and they will, in turn, show you that they care about the company through competent work and involvement.
One way to do this is to be honest and open during your one-on-one meetings with your team members. That is a time when you can listen and ask questions, and when you can even go beyond work matters if team members are comfortable with this. Ask about their family, about their hobbies, about their goals and dreams. Connect them with resources that can help them grow their skills and reach new levels. They’ll start to feel as if you really care about them as a person, which is invaluable.
4) Remember: Your Team Members Are Not Your Friends
This is one that many first-time managers struggle with in the beginning. When you’re new to your post, you want everyone to like you. But at the end of the day, you are the manager and you are responsible for your team.
The fact of the matter is that there will be times when you will need to make tough decisions that will affect your entire team, and you need to remain as objective as possible. Be friendly, but make sure to draw some lines from the beginning, because nobody likes blurry lines in the office place.
5) Schedule a Good Time for Your Team
As odd as this may sound, it is paramount that your team has regular outings where the sole purpose is simply to have fun. Any type of company event, such as a team building activity, is bound to raise team morale and make team members just a bit happier and more motivated. It’s also fun and incredibly helpful for the health of the team.
As the old adage goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. A change of pace and a chance of scene will give people a breather from the workplace and allow them to connect with their fellow team members in new ways as well as form new bonds, which will only help in the long-run when it’s time for the team to come together to achieve company goals.
It’s not easy being a first-time manager, but eventually, you’ll find the right balance in the workplace and will find your footing. Simply have faith in your abilities and skills, keep an open mind, and always keep learning. Using the strategies above, you’ll be sure to fast-track your learning curve and become more effective in your new position in no time.
Joseph Hamilton is a self-help writer, former manager of a team of 10, and conservationist. He enjoys traveling, dabbling in mobile app development, and spending time with his three rescue dogs.